Lefty feels 'nervous' ahead of Masters bid

Tue Apr 8, 2014 5:12pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - Playing in the Masters has always been an electrifying experience for Phil Mickelson and this week is no different for the American, even though he is "nervous" about his title bid after recent health concerns.

The left-hander, a three-times winner at Augusta National, says he has fully recovered after withdrawing from last month's Texas Open with a pulled abdominal muscle but rues the fact that he has not been in tournament contention in recent months.

"I'm nervous about this week because I always like coming into this week with a win (earlier in the season)," British Open champion Mickelson told reporters in a packed interview room on Tuesday.

"I like coming into this week being in contention a few times and having that confidence and experience to build on. But I have to give myself a little bit of slack, because I have not been 100 percent.

Mickelson, fresh off a tie for 12th at the Houston Open that marked his best finish in nine starts on the 2013-14 PGA Tour, said he had benefited after doing extensive physiotherapy work to strengthen his back.

"Physically, I feel great," said the 43-year-old who will be seeking a sixth major title this week. "The parts of my game, if I break them down, they feel terrific.

"But I haven't put them together this year. I haven't had the results to fall back on. I haven't experienced that pressure to feel comfortable in that environment, and so I'm certainly nervous, because this is a week that I care about the most."

'MAGICAL PLACE'   Continued...

U.S. golfer Phil Mickelson (R) tees off on the fifth hole as compatript Dustin Johnson watches during a practice round ahead of the Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake